292 Heighmore v Bennett

The Court of Chivalry 1634-1640.

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292 HEIGHMORE V BENNETT

Abraham Heighmore of St Clement Danes, co. Middlesex, gent v Thomas Bennett of Winterborne Strickland, co. Dorset, gent

August 1639 - June 1640

Abstract

Heighmore complained that on 3 July 1639 in the Blackboy Inn in the parish of St Clement Danes, Middlesex, Bennet had said 'that all that served honourable noble persons were not gentlemen'. When Heighmore answered he was a gentleman of an ancient family, Bennett replied that Heighmore 'was a base fellow and a scurvy fellow', and one that 'changed points out of one paire of breeches into another'. The quarrel arose at the end of an evening's drinking when Mr Thomas Delacourt called Bennett over and asked him to determine a controversy over whether 'a gentleman usher to a great lady were an esquire by his place or not.' Bennett replied that he was not an esquire, but that a gentleman who served a noble person 'might expect the place from one that was meerlie a gentleman without such relacon (though the eldest son of an esquire or the second son of a knight).' Bennett then directed his insults at Heighmore, allegedly, striking him in the face. Process was granted on 14 August 1639 and Dr Parry entered Bennett's defence on 4 February 1640. On 15 June Bennett was found guilty and ordered to pay Heighmore 100 marks damages.

Initial proceedings

6/33, Petition

'That on the third of July last, your petitioner coming to a house called the Blackboy behind St Clements to inquire for letters out of the countrey, in the yard of the house there was one Mr Thomas Bennett, Mr Thomas Delacourt and divers others drinking; Mr Bennett and Mr Delacourt being of the petitioner's acquaintance, your petitioner went to the doore to bidd them good night, whoe having a pupose (as it seemed) to deride and abuse the petitioner desired him to stay and decide a controversie. (The question was) whether a gentleman usher to a great lady were an Esqr. by his place or not; the petitioner answered that a gentleman usher was no esquire by his place, but some were of opinion that he whoe served a great noble person in the ymployment of a gentleman might expect the place from one that was meerlie a gent without such relacon (though the eldest son of an esquire or the second son of a knt): for that those who serve noble persons as gentlemen are for the most part gentlemen and the serving of a noble person was rather an addicon then a disparagement to a man's honor. Mr Bennett replied, But they are not all gentlemen that serve noble persons; your petitioner asked him, whoe was not a gentleman. Mr Bennett replied, You; and further told the petitioner he was a proud fellowe. The petitioner to vindicate his reputation said he was a gentleman of an ancient family and told Mr Bennett he might be ashamed to abuse him soe. Whereupon, Mr Bennett called your petitioner, Base stinking fellowe, scurvy fellowe, and other like scandalous and reprochfull tearmes, and also in disgracefull and provoking manner gave him the lye; and told him he changed points out of one paire of breeches into another; and struck your petitioner in the face, with other fowle abuses, whereby the petitioner extremely suffers in his reputacon.'

Petitioned that Bennett be brought to answer.

Maltravers granted process on 14 August 1639.

6/26, Defendant's bond

12 October 1639

Bound to appear 'in the Court in the Painted Chamber within the Pallace of Westminster'.

Signed by Thomas Bennett.

Sealed, subscribed and delivered in the presence of John Watson.

6/32, Plaintiff's bond

22 October 1639

Bound to appear 'in the Court in the Painted Chamber within the Pallace of Westminster'.

Signed by Robert Strode of St Edmund's, Lombard Street, London, gent, on behalf of Abraham Heighmore.

Sealed, subscribed and delivered in the presence of Humphrey Terrick.

17/5h, Libel

1. Heighmore's family had been gentry for up to 300 years.

2. Between June and August in the parish of St Clement Danes, Bennet said 'that all that served honourable noble persons were not gentlemen. Whereunto, I answered I was a gentleman of an ancient family, and Bennett replyed that I was a base fellow and a scurvy fellow and he gave me the lye and did also strike me in the face and in the eye'.

3. These contemptuous words were provocative of a duel.

No date but filed under 12 October 1639.

Signed by Arthur Duck.

Sentence / Arbitration

17/6j, Plaintiff's sentence

Bennett was sentenced for saying that 'Abraham Highmore was a stinking proud fellow'. Highmore was awarded 100 marks damages and the cause was taxed at £20.

No date marked but filed under 'secunda sessio: 15 June 1640', Trinity term, 1640.

Signed by Arthur Duck and Maltravers.

17/6e, Plaintiff's bill of costs

Michaelmas term, 1639: £10-8s-4d

Hilary term, 1639: £4-11s-08d

Vacation: £5-3s-4d

Easter term, 1640: £2-14s-0d

Trinity term, 1640: £10-3s-0d

Sum total: £33-6s-4d

Signed by Arthur Duck.

Taxed at £20.

No date marked but filed under 'secunda sessio: 15 June 1640', Trinity term, 1640.

Signed by Maltravers.

Summary of proceedings

Dr Duck acted as counsel for Heighmore and Dr Parry for Bennett. On 4 February 1640 Dr Parry was to relate material for the defence, but Dr Duck objected, alleging that Parry's material was not admissible in law.

Notes

Heighmore did not appear in the London Visitations or Middlesex pedigrees: G. J. Armytage (ed.), Middlesex Pedigrees (Publications of the Harleian Society, 65, 1914); J. J. Howard and J. L. Chester (eds.), The Visitation of London, 1633, 1634 and 1635, vol. I (Publications of the Harleian Society, 15, 1880); J. J. Howard (ed.), The Visitation of London, 1633, 1634 and 1635, vol. II (Publications of the Harleian Society, 17, 1883); J. B. Whitmore and A. W. Hughes Clarke (ed.), London Visitation Pedigrees, 1664 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 92, 1940).

A Thomas Bennett, son and heir of Thomas Bennett of co. Wiltshire, esq, and Margaret, daughter of William Grove, appeared in the Visitation of Dorset in 1623. He married Mellior, daughter of Richard Thomas.

J. P. Rylands (ed.), The Visitation of the County of Dorset taken in the year 1623 (Publications of the Harleian Society, 20, 1885), p. 14.

Documents

  • Initial proceedings
    • Petition: 6/33 (14 Aug 1639)
    • Defendant's bond: 6/26 (12 Oct 1639)
    • Plaintiff's bond: 6/32 (22 Oct 1639)
    • Libel: 17/5h (12 Oct 1639)
  • Sentence / Arbitration
    • Plaintiff sentence: 17/6j (15 Jun 1640)
    • Plaintiff's bill of costs: 17/6e (15 Jun 1640)
  • Proceedings
    • Proceedings before Maltravers: 8/31 (4 Feb 1640)

People mentioned in the case

  • Bennett, Margaret
  • Bennett, Thomas, esq
  • Bennett, Thomas, gent
  • Delacourt, Thomas, gent
  • Duck, Arthur, lawyer
  • Grove, Margaret
  • Grove, William
  • Heighmore, Abraham, gent (also Highmore)
  • Howard, Henry, baron Maltravers
  • Parry, George, lawyer
  • Strode, Robert, gent
  • Terrick, Humphrey (also Terricke)
  • Thomas, Mellior
  • Thomas, Richard
  • Watson, John

Places mentioned in the case

  • Dorset
    • Winterborne Strickland
  • London
    • St Edmund, Lombard Street
  • Middlesex
    • St Clement Danes
    • Westminster
  • Wiltshire

Topics of the case

  • apparel
  • assault
  • denial of gentility
  • giving the lie
  • provocative of a duel
  • tavern brawl